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New empiricisms in the Anthropocene: Thinking with speculative fiction about science and social inquiry

de Freitas, Elizabeth and Truman, Sarah (2020) New empiricisms in the Anthropocene: Thinking with speculative fiction about science and social inquiry. Qualitative Inquiry. ISSN 1077-8004

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Abstract

Interest in new empiricisms and transdisciplinary methods has led many social inquirers to engage with 20th-century post-classical physical science. Many of these projects have focused on alternative matter–mind mixtures and in/organic variation, concerned that past theories of sociality have dismissed the vibrancy and animacy of the nonhuman material world. This paper explores the power of speculative fiction to help us rethink empiricism in posthuman ecologies of the Anthropocene, in the midst of post-truth conditions and growing science denialism. We foreground speculative fiction as a way to open up scientific imaginaries, rethinking the relationship between nature, technics, and human “sense” making. We show how such texts offer alternative images of research methods for studying pluralist ecologies and new forms of worldly belonging.

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